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University of Georgia Genetics Professor John Avise Publishes The Genetic Gods, A New Book On Evolution And Belief

ATHENS, GA. -- "In a very real sense, we are our genes. These molecular agents influence our bodily features, our behaviors and even our predisposition to spirituality. They affect how we love, how we live, and even how and when we die."

Now, a new book by a University of Georgia genetics professor brings together the most recent discoveries in evolutionary and molecular genetics and uses them to show a vital link between all aspects of human life -- including religion.

"Genes and evolutionary processes have a pervasive influence over human affairs," said Dr. John Avise, one of UGA's most respected researchers and teachers and a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. "They even extend into realms traditionally reserved for supernatural processes. This book is not intended to be adversarial but rather an attempt to understand the human condition from a mechanistic genetics perspective."

Avise's book, The Genetic Gods: Evolution and Belief in Human Affairs, was just published by Harvard University Press.

Though Avise worked hard to avoid dogma in writing the book, he freely admits that it is "sure to be controversial," especially among those who are "inherently opposed to scientific methods." Nevertheless, he says the volume grew both from his own scientific inquiries into the "genetic gods" and an exposure early in life to Christian Science. The book marks a departure for Avise, whose earlier work in evolutionary genetics has made him an internationally recognized scholar.

As Avise notes in the books's preface, the sciences of evolutionary biology and genetics have blossomed in recent decades. Indeed, the entire history of those disciplines is barely a century old. In recent years new genetic discoveries have begun to provide mechanistic explanations of human conditions that until recently "had been within the exclusive purview of mythology,
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Contact: Phil Williams
philwpio@arches.uga.edu
(706) 542-8501
University of Georgia
4-Sep-1998


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